Why Rubber Still Plays a Key Role in Manufacturing
Rubber has been around for thousands of years, and it is a material we rely on in products we use every day. Rubber has evolved, but it still plays a key role in manufacturing.
Where did rubber come from, and why is it so important? We have done the research for you and compiled our favorite fun facts about rubber.
When Rubber Was First Discovered
The true history of rubber can be hard to determine, as it has been said that South America’s Indians used it to create rubber balls over 3,500 years ago. Charles Marie de La Condamine from France has been credited with sharing rubber with the Europeans, which helped it to become more mainstream.
In the 1700s, English philosopher Joseph Priestley discovered rubber could actually erase pencil marks, and this is how the rubber got its name. To begin with, rubber was used without any modifications, but this would change over time.
Where Rubber Comes From
Did you know rubber actually comes from trees such as the Hevea Brasiliensis (also known as the Rubber Tree)? When the bark on these trees is damaged, a sticky substance is secreted, and approximately 30 percent of this latex is what we call natural rubber.
These trees thrive in subtropic and tropical conditions and are most commonly cultivated in South America, Southeast Asia and Western Africa. These days, there is also an alternative synthetic rubber product available.
How Modern Rubber Has Improved
While rubber in its natural state does have good qualities, it isn’t suitable for every purpose. There are two types of rubber, one comes from trees and the other is manufactured in a chemical laboratory.
Once natural rubber is collected from the tree bark, it is then dried. There were some issues with this as the resulting product won’t stand the test of time. When rubber is still liquid, other chemicals can be added such as silica and carbon black to enhance durability. Sulfur is another common component, as it is part of a vulcanization process that results in heat-resistant properties.
Common Uses of Rubber in Manufacturing
Rubber can be found in a larger number of manufactured products, whether it is in its natural state or a synthetic version. O-rings are a common rubber component that can be made in a range of sizes. They are a simple design, but provide an unbeatable tight seal.
Other uses for rubber include tires, balloons, balls, hoses, rubber bands, floors, rubber gloves, clothing and flotation devices.
The Benefits of Rubber
As rubber can be either flexible and stretchy, or in a more solid consistency, the list of uses is endless. Rubber is waterproof, and depending on the composition, can have excellent thermal qualities. It can be invaluable in machinery as it can withstand vibration, and can even be found in vehicle airbags.
Some rubber products such as tires can be recycled and turned into other things such as rubber mulch. This means the rubber is now a more environmentally friendly material than it once was.
Rubber Is All-Around
Rubber is flexible and adaptable, making it the ideal solution for a range of applications. This material has been used for generations and is yet to see any real competition.
Look around your home and you may just be surprised by how many products you have that contain rubber.